Book 2: Alternative Final Chapter
In the earlier drafts of The Lupatus Stone, the book ended with our heroes getting on a plane that was piloted by Damien's friend Eli. The chapter features a conversation between Jessica, who was very apprehensive about flying with a witch hunter that used to hunt her, and Nathan, who is very apprehensive about getting on the plane at all. That feeling is made worse when he makes the casual observation that Eli isn't human.
This chapter got cut for a number of reasons. Firstly it was an unnecessary momentum shift at the end of the story. While I wanted to leave on an uplifting, 'what could come next' kind of tone, bringing in a new scene with a different setting and additional character doesn't close the loop on the story as well as the actual final chapter does. As much as I wanted to give Eli some page time, this was not the place. Introducing a new character with bombshell of information that Damien's best friend isn't human brings up too many questions for the reader in the very last chapter of the story. So while it is an important tidbit of information for me as the author, it ultimately wasn't necessary for this story. And since, at the time of publishing book 2, I couldn't guarantee how much of a role Eli would play in future books, I decided it was better to cut him entirely rather than write myself into a corner I wasn't sure I could pay off.
So, with that being said, I hope you enjoy this nice little tidbit of lore and seeing how the characters interact when there isn't a sadistic werewolf and malicious demon god chasing them. Please keep in mind that this is a draft version of the chapter.
Nathan didn’t think anything could make him afraid now that Silas was dead. He was gravely mistaken.
“I realize why you are afraid…” Abigail began to say.
His chest rumbled in a protesting snarl.
She shifted her feet nervously. “And,” she stressed, narrowing her eyes at him, “I am sure Jessica could come up with some kind of sleeping potion… or something.”
Nathan loathed that idea. “She might have to.” A car ride was one thing. The idea of being trapped in a tiny metal cage up thousands of feet in the air was making him sweat.
He was staring at an all too tiny aircraft, posed and ready on an equally tiny airfield in the middle of Northern B.C. Nathan had explored almost all of the surrounding lands, while trying to avoid running into people, and hadn’t known this airfield existed. The fact that the plane had already made a five-hour trip from eastern Canada did not make him feel any better.
“It is going to be a long flight,” Jessica said as she approached Nathan and Abigail, who were standing off to the side. She looked almost as on edge as Nathan felt. And Nathan had never flown before. Ever.
“Why are you so nervous?”
Jessica’s nostrils flared, as if mad that he had noticed her nerves, but she didn’t deny the accusation. “The man flying the plane…. His name is Eli.” She took a moment to glance over at the man now speaking with Damien by the plane. The two were clearly friendly with each other. Nathan had never seen someone like Eli before. The guy looked like a ghost. His skin was as pale as fog, as his hair was even whiter. His eyes were a crisp blue, so blue that Nathan would have assumed they were kindred if the man’s scent hadn’t been….
“He’s a witch hunter,” Jessica continued, “a very dangerous one.” Her eyes narrowed in on the man, as if she was expecting him to jump at any second. Eli, on the other hand, looked very relaxed speaking with Damien by the plane. “He and Damien worked together in Toronto.”
“To hunt you,” Abigail said. The clarification wasn’t necessary. It was very clear from the tone and intensity of Jessica’s voice. The witch grimaced, nodding her head reluctantly.
“He’s not human,” Nathan said bluntly.
Jessica and Abigail looked up abruptly. There was silence between them before finally Nathan turned to the woman with a confused look on his face. “What?”
Abigail made an exasperated sound. “You cannot just say someone is not human and leave it at that.”
“What is he?” Jessica added.
“I don’t know,” Nathan shrugged. “I’ve never smelt something like that before. All I know is it ain’t human. I mean… there’s a little bit in there but it’s like… rotten or something.” He scrunched his nose. When their serious inquisitive expressions didn’t cease, Nathan began to get frustrated. “I told you I don’t what he is, just that he isn’t all human.”
Jessica sucked in a breath and watched Damien and Eli conversing for a moment. Abigail didn’t look so keen on flying any longer.
Suddenly Damien and Eli shook hands, and both began to approach them.
Jessica, without turning, whispered to Nathan and Abigail. “Not a word.”
“But!” Abigail tried to argue.
“No,” Jessica said. Her word was final, and she didn’t even have to make eye contact to let them know she was serious. “Not a word until we know more.”
Nathan didn’t really mind that. It was probably none of their business. Eli, whatever he was, was the least of Nathan’s concerns. He and his wolf, who were only really just starting to get on the same page, were about to be trapped in a very small metal box for several hours with other people and equipment that was all highly breakable, with no means of escape. Well, shit.
“Ready to go?” Eli asked. His voice was as eloquent as his complexion. Soft-spoken but enunciated, with the lingering English accent around the edges. It was hard to imagine Eli as a deadly fighter.
Abigail put on a brave fake smile. “Yes.”
"No,” Nathan muttered.
Eli looked at Nathan unsteadily. Nathan returned the stare. He did not believe, in all sincerity, that he could get on that plane. The wolf was clawing at the surface, just underneath his skin, begging to be let out so they could run as far away as possible from the flying death trap in front of them.
“It is going to be at least thirteen hours, with multiple stopovers for gas,” Eli warned them as if matters couldn’t already get worse.
Nathan groaned and began to pace, the wolf anxious as his heart raced.
Eli seemed to recognize the severity of the situation. “You’ll be able to get out and stretch your legs.”
“After how many hours is that then?” Nathan snarled.
“Nathan,” Abigail pleaded
“Abigail,” he mocked her back. He was a wild animal at heart, and they were asking him to willingly get into a cage.
“Give him a window seat in the back row,” Damien said.
Nathan pulled back his upper lip and directed his snarl at Damien, which didn’t phase the human at all. Stupid hunter. Damien was right of course. It would help if he could focus on the open sky around him. Of course, the open sky meant that he wasn’t on the ground. His heart began racing even further. He could feel the sweat soaking into his shirt.
“You’ll be fine Nathan,” Jessica assured him. She turned to face him, standing toe-to-toe against the contained wolf.
Nathan shifted uneasily. He knew she was going to use magic. The ghostly metal aftertaste flared up in his mouth and he scowled deeply as he forced his feet to still. He wasn’t going anywhere without Jessica’s help, but that didn’t mean he had to like it.
“Close your eyes."
The wolf growled.
Jessica simply stared at him until he did as she said.
With his eyes closed, Nathan felt her press two fingers to his forehead and a thumb press the bride of his nose. He recoiled slightly, but Jessica’s fingers stayed pressed into his skin. “Take a deep breath,” Jessica instructed. Her voice was smooth. Despite his better judgment, for one of the rare moments in his life, Nathan did as he was told.
“Breathe out… and breathe in.”
“Breathe out… breathe in.”
“I just did that.”
“Shut up and do it again.”
Nathan did. Again, and again, while Jessica kept her stupid fingers pressed to his stupid forehead. He knew the others were watching. He focused on the pressure of her fingertips, the heat against his skin as Jessica began to mumble words under her breath. They sounded like the funny language that Abigail’s colleague Kian had left that silly note in the first place for them. Was it French or Latin? Nathan couldn’t remember.
The words began to feel heavy as she spoke them, the heat from her fingers leeching out and spreading across the rest of his body. It warmed his skin first, then penetrated his muscles. It moved deeper until even his bones felt as though they were relaxed in the warm feeling.
“Breathe in… breathe out.”
Nathan did, and it was much easier this time. The world around him felt…hazy. Even the wolf was in a daze, happy to go anywhere. Was he drunk?
“What did you do to him?”
That was Abigail’s voice. Why did it sound so distant? No, she’s right beside me, Nathan thought as his arm brushed against hers. She was right there still. Good.
“Think of it as a… muscle relaxant spell.”
"You drugged him," said Eli. He sounded almost impressed. Damien had a goofy smile on his face.
"Better that than have an irate werewolf trapped in a flying airplane with us," Jessica shrugged her shoulders, but the wolf heard the challenge in her voice.
There were a few more words exchanged behind him as Abigail led him toward the metal death trap. He knew it was a metal death trap, but this time he did not care one way or another. Eli was speaking with Abigail as he walked them to the plane, but Nathan had his ears trained elsewhere.
“Muscle relaxant spell?” he heard Damien ask Jessica in a hushed tone behind them.
“Shhh,” she scolded him.
“I thought you didn’t like using magic against people?” Damien asked. From Jessica’s hesitation, it was clearly an unexpected question.
“This is different.”
Damien didn’t say anything.
“It isn’t all innately bad. This is helping a friend.”
When Damien didn't say anything further, Jessica scowled. “Shut up.”
“I didn’t say anything.”
“You were thinking that I am being irrational by being afraid of magic one minute and using it willy-nilly the next. I told you, I am helping a friend. I basically gave him a super dose of melatonin. He asked for it.”
Damien paused. Their footsteps indicated they were following them now towards the plane. Eli had opened the door, and the creaking metal surprisingly did not affect Nathan’s comfort level. Abigail cringed beside him,
“Willy nilly?” Damien asked Jessica.
To Nathan’s surprise, the witch laughed. Genuinely laughed. The sound made Nathan smile.
“Are you going to be alright with this?” Damien changed the subject.
Now it was Jessica’s turn to pause. No doubt she was staring at Eli, who was now climbing into the cockpit of the plane and analyzing his every move.
“My only reassurance is he won’t crash the plane while you’re in it…. I hope,” she admitted.
Now it was Damien’s turn to laugh. It was a deep hearty sound but, despite the effects of Jessica’s spell getting heavier by the minute, Nathan was very much alert to the sound that was unique from Damien.
“He is a good pilot.”
Jessica took in a deep breath, but her feet stopped as shifted slightly, probably to face Damien. “Centuries of history don’t just disappear in a night. Why is he helping us?”
"I asked him to.”
“Because you’re his leader.”
“Because he’s my friend.” Both of them were silent for a moment more. Nathan only had a few more moments to listen before they shut the door of the plane. When did he get to be sitting inside the plane? His body was covered in such a strange feeling he hadn’t even noticed. It was sort of like being underwater but in a not-so-scary way.
“We served together, and he came to Toronto with me afterward,” he heard Damien explain.
“Did you know him before that?”
“No,” Damien’s tone turned suspicious.
Jessica’s hair swished as if she were shaking his head. “I guess the army makes some pretty strong friends.”
“I wouldn’t be alive without him.”
“Well hopefully he doesn’t decide that was a mistake now.”
Damien’s chuckle filled the air, and Nathan could practically feel Jessica’s smile as they finally climbed in to take their seats side by side in the tiny airplane. Someone placed something firm around Nathan’s ears. He flinched for a moment, his hands swinging up lazily to check his head. They were headphones.
Eli turned over his shoulder, wearing a matching pair of headphones that had a little microphone attached to the front. He flashed a smile as smooth and charming as a marble statue. Even his skin shimmered like it was made of stone. “Everyone ready?” His eyes focused and refocused on Jessica as he spoke.
“Yes,” Abigail said, with a sense of nervous delight in her voice.
“No,” Nathan replied too loudly. Leaning back and looking out the window seat, he saw that the world was already moving around them as the plane began to pick up speed for take off.
Nathan stared at the back of Eli’s head in a trance. “He doesn’t stink right” he muttered, not aware that he was saying the words for the rest of the to hear. The scent filled the cabin of the plane. It was not an obnoxious smell, but it wasn’t the right stench of human. it lacked the earth undertone that he was used to detecting. This scent was dry – as if the absence of scent was a smell of its own.
“What do you mean Nathan?” Abigail asked.
He tried to reply but had already lost the thought between one moment and the next. Nathan could feel a good solid nap beginning to take over. Leaning back, Nathan smiled. He was going on this adventure, whether he wanted to or not.
The last thing Nathan heard as he dosed off, was Abigail’s soothing voice as she turned to Jessica and said, “Any chance you can use that muscle relaxant spell on me?”